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Next Birmingham salon: Wednesday 11 May

The struggle for democracy in the Middle East and Africa: Can the Arab movements survive western intervention?

Karl Sharro is an architect, writer and commentator on the Middle East. He previously taught at the American University of Beirut. Karl has written for a number of international publications, such as Springerin (Austria), Mark Magazine (Holland), Novo (Germany), Glass (UK) and Blueprint (UK), and he contributes regularly to the online publications Culture Wars and
The uprisings in Arab countries came as a surprise to most; even President Obama questioned US intelligence agencies’ failure to predict events. Those uprisings are driven by genuinely popular democratic movements, but their outcomes are still unclear. Given the lack of traditional forms of political organisation spearheading those uprisings, how will events unfold and who are the main players determining the outcomes? As the UN prepares to intervene on behalf of Libyan rebels while ignoring the foreign repression of Bahrain's protesters, can the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East keep control of their movements? Might their revolutions be taken away from them?
The uprisings put paid to the idea that democracy is exclusively Western, and show it is a universal aspiration. Yet the reaction from Western elites has been ambivalent at best: Can Arabs bring about a ‘stable democracy’? What do we make of calls from foreign ministries for an ‘orderly transition’, especially in light of Western powers’ history in the region? What do those revolts mean for the balance of power in the region, and for American hegemony?
He blogs at Karl reMarks
All welcome
Further speakers TBC


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